Parishioners die in fire en-route to Mass
Emergency crews yesterday found the bodies of Mrs Sylvia Hoad and Mrs Margaret Walsh, who had perished in a house fire as they were about to leave for mass in the southern NSW town of Ganmain.
The Daily Telegraph reports that regular churchgoers Sylvia Hoad and Margaret Walsh had been about to leave for Mass in the southern NSW town of Ganmain, which is situated in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.
Instead, the congregation which gathered at the town's Catholic Church ended up mourning the loss of two of their most "exemplary Christians".
Mrs Hoad, 94, and Mrs Walsh, 72, died when flames tore through Mrs Hoad's ground-floor unit about 5.30pm yesterday, barely half an hour before the church service.
Emergency crews found the bodies of Mrs Hoad and Mrs Walsh after extinguishing the blaze, which caused extensive damage to the Loch Street unit.
Fr Peter Krigovsky, parish priest at Ganmain, said Mrs Walsh had arrived at Mrs Hoad's unit to take her elderly friend to church.
She entered through the back door just as a fire, the cause of which is yet to be determined, began to take hold.
"As the smoke and fire started, they were trying to get out through the front," Fr Krigovsky said. "But Mrs Hoad had the front door locked and bolted.
"(Mrs Hoad) collapsed at the front door and Mrs Walsh, in the smoke, couldn't open all the latches and the hatches and collapsed there too."
Fr Krigovsky learned of the tragedy as he was about to deliver his homily.
"Someone came up to me seconds before the beginning of mass and said it was Sylvia Hoad's house (on fire)," he said. "Then others were coming in asking if they'd seen Meg (Margaret) Walsh, and we realised what was happening."
Police said two neighbours saw Mrs Hoad's unit on fire and tried to force open the windows, but were unable to gain entry and later had to be taken to Wagga Base Hospital.
Fr Krigovsky said the elderly Mrs Hoad had married, but had lived alone for a long time.
Mrs Walsh came from a large family and had two children and many grandchildren.
Churchgoers die en-route to mass (Daily Telegraph 6/11/05)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Wagga Wagga | Ganmain Parish
Town mourns elderly pair killed in fire (Sydney Morning Herald/Australian Associated Press 7/11/05)
7 Nov 2005